Freshly picked from my kitchen to yours, this “Cabbage” is made of butter cake layers filled with toffee-speckled buttercream. The trompe l’oeil exterior is molded using real cabbage leaves!
Baking has always been my happy place, but making this cabbage cake was the most fun I’ve had in a while! I got the idea for it while browsing some old pastry periodicals. I’ve made little chocolate leaves plenty of times. You just paint chocolate right onto a mint or rose leaf, let it set, and then peel away to reveal your edible foliage. This was the same idea, but on a much larger scale!
Start with a sturdy cabbage with big waxy-looking leaves. I did a test run and found savoy cabbage to be the most convincing because of their deeply veined leaves. They also have a pretty frilly edge.
Pick off about 6 or 7 leaves. Wash and dry them thoroughly.
Choose your coating.
A few leaves were tested with white chocolate, and others with vanilla almond bark. Both came out pretty and looked just the same, but the almond bark is less meltable while you’re handling it so that’s what I used. Almond bark is a confectioners’ coating with a silly name because it doesn’t actually have any almonds in it. But that’s a story for another time.
Use what you prefer, but if you have very warm hands then you might want to consider using the less melty almond bark as a fail safe. I tinted these leaves bright green (maybe a little too bright?!) with a combo of green and yellow oil-based candy coloring. Coat the inside of the cabbage leaves using a soft art brush. Make sure to go all the way out to the curly tips.
Don’t underestimate the amount of chocolate/candy you’ll need here! There’s a lot of real estate to cover on these big curved leaves. And they require a second coat for stability. You’ll need about 48 oz. which could be very costly using real white chocolate. Two 24 oz. packages of almond bark would get the job done cost effectively.
Crumple up some aluminum foil to make a cradle for the leaves. The coated leaves are heavy! The aluminum foil helps them keep their curve.
Chill the double-coated leaves in the refrigerator until they are firm. It’s so much fun peeling the leaves away from the chocolate. Because the leaves are so waxy, like silicone, they don’t stick!
Kids will love this. If you don’t want to make a whole cake you could just have fun making the cabbage leaves. There’s absolutely no trace of cabbage flavor on the candy leaves, if you were curious.
Underneath those leaves I built a 6-inch butter cake with toffee bits folded into the buttercream. It is a tasty little treat!
Keep this cake on the small side. The leaves should be able to fit around the entire cake comfortably, with most of them resting and meeting at the top center.
Round the top of the cake by carving away the top edge. Doing this is important because it helps the curved leaves have something to easily form to. You want the cake to bear the weight of the leaves.
The leaves are heavy so stick the first three leaves on to the freshly iced cake then refrigerate it. It’s important that this base layer is sturdy, because more heavy leaves will be added.
Re-heat your leftover green candy and use it as glue to stick the remaining leaves on. If it seems to take a long time for the leaves to stick together, tie some kitchen twine around the center of the assembled leaves. This will hold it all together until the candy dries.
Remove a leaf or two to cut the cake, or you could smash it open if you were into theatrics (or if you’re in front of a crowd – I would totally do this at a family dinner!).
I will go on record to say, this is the yummiest cabbage I’ve ever tasted! (Hehe.) If you like the looks of this cake, then you might like to see my Peas and Carrots cake right here.
I learned so much from making this cake, and I’m already planning another one in a different color. Be sure to check out the video to see the entire assembly.
Remember folks, Eat Your Veggies!
- 7-8 savoy cabbage leaves washed and patted dry
- 48 oz. vanilla/white almond bark or white chocolate
- Green oil-based candy food color
- Yellow oil-based candy food color
- 1 1/2 cups unsalted butter softened
- 2 1/2 cups sugar
- 5 eggs at room temperature
- 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
- 3 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1 cup whole milk at room temperature
- 2 cups unsalted butter softened
- 8 cups confectioners’ sugar
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- Milk or cream if necessary
- 1/2 teaspoon fine grain sea salt
- 1/3 cup toffee bits
- Green food color
- 1/2 cup chocolate cookie crumbs
Place the savoy cabbage leaves on a large baking sheet. Melt the white candy/chocolate in a large microwave-safe bowl in 30 second increments. Stir well in between heating, and use the residual heat from the bowl to melt the candy. This will prevent over-heating. Stir in the food colors a little at a time until a bright green color is achieved.
Pour about 1/4 cup of the candy into a cabbage leaf and use the art brush to spread the candy all the way to the edges. Crumple a piece of aluminum foil to cradle the leaf and return the leaf to the baking tray. Repeat the process with remaining leaves. Allow the leaves to stand until set Re-heat candy if needed and give the leaves a second coat. Transfer to the refrigerator while you prepare the cake. Reserve leftover candy.
Preheat the oven to 350F. Coat four 6-inch cake pans with flour-based baking spray.
In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream the butter and sugar until lightened in color and fluffy, about 4 minutes.
Add the eggs, one at a time, mixing well after each addition. Mix in the vanilla extract. Sift together the flour, baking powder and salt. Add the flour mixture to the butter mixture in 3 additions, alternating with the milk; begin and end with flour. Beat until the batter is smooth and thoroughly combined.
Divide batter between pans and bake for 25-30 minutes, or until the cakes are golden on top and a toothpick tester comes out clean. Cool 10 minutes in the pan. Invert and transfer cakes to cooling racks. Cool completely, then level the tops of the cake using a serrated knife or cake leveler.
In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, mix together the butter and sugar. Begin mixing on low speed until the mixture is crumbly. Increase to high and beat for 3 minutes. Add the vanilla extract and beat again for another minute until light and fluffy. Beat in the sea salt. If the buttercream is too stiff, add milk or heavy cream 1 tablespoon at a time until the mixture is of spreading consistency.
Remove 1/2 of the frosting to a bowl and fold in the toffee bits. Tint the remaining frosting green using the food color.
Peel fresh lettuce leaves away from the candy. If pieces of fresh cabbage stick into grooves, remove them with a pair of kitchen-dedicated tweezers. Set aside.
Place a cake layer on a serving plate or cake stand. Fill and stack using the toffee buttercream and other cake layers. Chill the cake for 30 minutes. Trim away the top edge of the cake using a serrated knife to create a dome shape. Cover the entire cake with the green buttercream. Reserve leftover buttercream.
While the buttercream is fresh and tacky, position three cabbage leaves around the cake, allowing the curved edges of the leaves to rest against the top dome of the cake. Refrigerate until firm.
Re-heat leftover green candy and have green frosting ready to hand.
Stack more leaves around the cake, covering any large gaps. Use a small art brush to dab dots of melted candy where the edges of the leaves meet the other leaves. Tie kitchen twine around the center of the assembled leaves to hold them in place while they set. Transfer the cake to the refrigerator to speed setting. Use dots or swirls of frosting to fil in any gaps using an offset spatula.
Before serving, remove the kitchen twine and spoon chocolate cookie crumbs (‘dirt’) around the edge of the cake.
To serve, disassemble one or two lettuce leaves at a time; cut the cake into servings. Break the leaves into pieces and serve alongside slices of cake.
Chocolate and candy food colors are found at kitchen specialty shops and online. See blog post for resources.